PHILADELPHIA - Stong regular season performances combined with high NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional finishes resulted in eight Penn fencers qualifying for the NCAA Championships to be held March 13-16 at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. The men's and women's teams are equally represented - each qualified four fencers.
The group of qualifiers is highlighted by Ron Berkowsky. The senior captain of the men's team earned his fourth bid to the NCAA Championships on the heels of a 25-5 record in the regular season and a fourth-place finish at the Regionals last weekend. Berkowsky is a three-time first-team All-American in foil and has finished no lower than fourth in his three previous entrees. In 2007, he earned the silver medal - losing to Ohio State's Andreas Horani, 13-12. In 2006, he placed fourth and in his freshman season of 2005 he won the bronze medal.
Joining Ron at NCAAs will be his younger brother Jon. After sitting out his freshman season last year due to injury, Jonathan Berkowsky fenced his way back into top form - and into the NCAA Championships. He compiled a 26-3 record on the season - the fewest losses by a Penn fencer who competed in more than 20 regular season bouts. Last weekend at the regionals, Jon finished in second place in sabre, winning nine bouts.
Matthew Kolasa is the second sabre fencer to qualify for the Quakers. This will be his third trip to the NCAA Championships (2006 and 2007). His highest previous finish was 13th in '07. Kolasa earned second-team All-Ivy honors in 2008 and he won the bronze medal at the 2008 IFA Championships. His final regular season record was 26-6.
The fourth male fencer to qualify for the NCAA Championships is Ben Wieder in epee. Wieder compiled a 22-10 record in the regular season and topped that off with a third-place finish at regionals to earn his spot in the field. He earned second-team All-Ivy distinction in 2007.
In addition to the men who qualified, four members of the women's team will compete in Columbus.
Freshman Danielle Kamis led all Penn fencers - male or female - in wins this season with 37 to go with only eight losses. She earned a place on the All-Ivy second team and won the silver medal in sabre at the 2008 IFA Championships. She was a member of the IFA Team Co-Champions in sabre as well. At regionals, she won nine bouts to claim first place.
Joining Kamis in sabre competition at NCAAs will be Alexis Baran. The sophomore will be making her second appearance at the NCAA Championships - she finished 14th with nine wins in '07. She finished the regular season with a 30-15 record and took home eighth place at the IFA Championships. At the Mid-Atlantic Regionals last weekend, she finished in second place, only one win behind Kamis.
The Red and Blue will also have two women representing them in the foil competition. Junior captain Ilana Sinkin will be making her third appearance at the NCAA Championships. Her highest finish was 13th in 2007. Sinkin won 33 bouts to only seven losses in the regular season. She finished tied for second at the regionals with seven wins. At IFAs, she finished in ninth place. She won 14 Ivy League bouts to earn first-team All-Ivy honors.
The final Penn qualifier for the 2008 NCAA Championships is Zoya Abdikulova, also in foil. She tied for secondwith her teammate, Sinkin, at regionals with seven wins. That, combined with her 27-13 record in the regular season was enough to qualify her for the Championships. She is a member of the 2008 All-Ivy second team and will be making her first appearance at the NCAA Championships.
The 2008 NCAA Championships will be held March 13-16 at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. The women's competition will take place March 13-14 and the men's will be from March 15-16. The preliminary rounds of both competitions will take place in French Field House with the gold medal bouts held in St. John Arena. For full information on the 2008 NCAA Fencing Championships please click here.